Whenever Shipley girls' basketball coach Sean Costello needed to see more from his team he turned to senior co-captains Tamesha "Sox' Alexander and Colleen Walsh to provide that lift.
Trailing Germantown Academy, the 4th seed, 26-21 midway through the third quarter in the championship contest of the Pennsylvania Independent Schools state tournament, Costello turned to his senior duo one final time hoping they had some magic still left.
As they have done all season, Alexander and Walsh stepped up to help lead the top-seeded Gators on a 19-5 run to close the game and earn its second PAISSA title in three years with a 40-31 win on Saturday night at Malvern Prep.
"I just kept talking on the defensive end,' said Walsh. "I was trying to keep things positive and raise the energy level.'
Costello added, "I did not feel our energy was where it needed to be. I turned to Colleen and Sox and they gave us the lift we needed. They were awesome.'
Knowing it was going to be a physical contest, Costello pulled Maya Overton aside following Friday night's semifinal win over Penn Charter and informed her to be ready in case some of the post players got in foul trouble.
As it turned out, Costello's premonition was correct and Overton was ready. As soon as she stepped on the court, Overton's impact was felt with strong defense along with grabbing some key rebounds.
Costello said, "I spoke with Maya (following the Penn Charter) game and told her she would be needed if the post players got in trouble. It worked out that way and she was awesome.'
"I was nervous,' said Overton. "There was anxiety watching from the bench. However, when coach called on me I was ready and I did what I thought I was supposed to do.'
As this team has done all year, the Gators came together knowing a team effort was needed to win. Anchored by the two seniors, another important ingredient in the team's success was the chemistry they had with one another.
"In my 10 years I have been here as an assistant and now as head coach this has been the strongest team chemistry,' Costello said.
Other key ingredients in the team's success have been juniors Courtney Redcross, Martine Fortune, Nia Holland, freshman Tanisha Pressley and Overton.
As they reflect back on the success over the past four years, Alexander and Walsh will leave a lasting legacy through the individual accomplishments and more importantly the team accomplishments: an unblemished Friends Schools League record (40-0) that includes four Friends Schools League titles and two PAISAA titles.
"It's amazing to see how far we have grown in the past four years,' said Walsh. "I did not think we were going to settle for anything less than winning a state title in our final year. We wanted to show the younger kids hard work pays off.'
Overton added, "Sox and Colleen have meant so much to this program. They kept the team together and they are like big sisters to us. They will be missed next year but they have showed us what we need to do for continued success.'